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Initial D: The Virgin and Child
Masters of Dirc van Delf (Dutch, active about 1400 - about 1410)
Utrecht (probably), Netherlands (Place created)
about 1405 - 1410
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
Leaf: 16.5 x 11.7 cm (6 1/2 x 4 5/8 in.)
Within this initial D, the Madonna of Humility sits humbly on the ground. Despite her lowly pose, the anonymous artist or artists, known as the Masters of Dirc van Delf, reminded the viewer of the Virgin's lofty status as the Queen of Heaven by showing her crowned and celebrated by a music-making angel in the upper border. The theme of the Madonna of Humility became popular in the 1400s as Christians increasingly focused on the human qualities of holy figures. The artist(s) further emphasized the Virgin's humanity by representing her nursing the infant Jesus.
The rubric, Incipiunt hore de domina n[ost]ra (The hours of our Lady begin), introduces the Matins text of the Hours of the Virgin, which begins with a verse from Psalm 50: Domine labia mea aperies et os meum annunciabit laude[m] tuam (Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise). An ornate, burnished gold leaf border with vines and bold blue and red leaves almost entirely encloses the text, including the initial. The bear and the vignette of a man battling a griffin in the border are not related thematically to the image of the Virgin.
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